Customer data is one of the many important drivers in the content marketing world. Demographic information such as age, gender, and location helps inform messaging and content, ensuring things like blog articles, videos, and even logos stay relevant to your target audiences.

Consumer segmentation is another aspect of using demographic data. By segmenting audiences based on various shared parameters, you can target more specific slices of the population. It’s a standard practice in industries such as banking and consumer products, where knowing more about your customer provides more understanding about how, when, why, and where customers go banking or shopping.

Consumer segmentation can be used to improve healthcare marketing, too.

Healthcare in general is already such a complex and confusing subject for many. Medical billing alone has led to a cottage industry that helps patients navigate its murky depths, while a full third of Americans are unaware Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are one and the same. Even fewer understand the finer details about health insurance.

There are various other challenges facing the healthcare industry today as well, including high pressure to bring products and services to the market, and an increased desire for personalized care and value-based care.  

All these challenges can be solved through informative content marketing. Consumer segmentation in healthcare marketing can zero in on specific types of patients and advise them of the kind of care available. In turn, data gathered by consumer segmentation can advise healthcare providers of the types of patients on whom they should focus their marketing efforts, and inform product and drug development with more customized, effective solutions.

So, how can healthcare providers start using consumer segmentation to improve their content marketing efforts? For starters, there are a few basic parameters that healthcare marketers can look at to get started:

  • Age: Younger and older patients need the most care, although all age groups differ. Seniors, elderly, baby boomers, teenagers all have different needs and worries. Baby boomers will become the largest demographic in need of healthcare by 2030, so they should be a high priority for healthcare marketers.
  • Gender: Naturally, there are medications, products, procedures, and side effects that are gender-specific (think birth control pills, pregnancy, etc.).
  • Location: Different countries have different regulations pertaining to healthcare and healthcare marketing. Additionally, parts of the world are also more susceptible to certain conditions, which can affect messaging and marketing communications.
  • Education level: Is your audience highly educated? Only high school? The level of education can inform your style and tone in content and affect how some patients want to be engaged. Take, for instance, the fact that the average American reads at a 7th or 8th grade reading level. Make sure (especially when communicating complex conditions or products) that your content is easily understandable and digestible for your target audience.

Many healthcare providers already have vast databanks complete with this type of information, gathered by physicians who survey patients at appointments. Are they cancer patients? Do they have diabetes? Do they have another chronic condition? Are they from a low-income household? Aging? Struggling with behavioral problems? How much do they exercise? Do they feel stress? This type of data can get very detailed and very granular, which if parsed and organized well enough, can provide incredible insight for marketing departments and allow marketers to create highly detailed and accurate personas of their target markets. This, in turn, can make crafting content and other marketing communications much more targeted and effective.

Healthcare companies that don’t have access to this type of data can collect data through surveys on their websites or through email marketing campaigns to solicit what current and prospective patients care about. Combine that info, with the data providers already have, and you can begin to segment healthcare customers into different categories to make your healthcare marketing more useful and targeted.

For companies that lack consumer data, there are already a few healthcare focused consumer segmentation reports available to help you get acquainted with common personas and psychographics in the healthcare space.

A Commonwealth Fund report from a few years ago found five healthcare consumer types, including:

  • Direction Takers: Personalities who trust physicians and count on them to provide directions for them to follow.
  • Balance Seekers: They take physicians’ advice, but also do their own research.
  • Priority Jugglers: They put their own health aside and prioritize the health of friends and family.
  • Self-achievers: Very proactive about their own health, and they are more likely to follow the advice of physicians.   
  • Willful Endurers: They are resistant to changing their behavior and taking care of their health.

Meanwhile, the PATH Institute found nine distinct profiles of healthcare consumers:

  • Clinic Cynic: They are distrustful of anyone in the medical profession.
  • Avoider: They avoid using healthcare services until very sick or injured.
  • Generic: They balance a concern for cost with a concern for quality.
  • Family Centered: They put family health above all other matters (similar to Priority Jugglers above).
  • Traditionalists: They’re willing to pay more for quality and tend to use the same providers.
  • Loyalist: They hold moderate health care opinions and behaviors.
  • Ready User: Similar to Self-achievers, they actively seek and use healthcare services.
  • Independently Healthy: Also very actively involved in their own health.
  • Naturalist: Prefers to use non-traditional or alternative health care methods, like the Out & About segment detailed below.

And back in 2008, Deloitte found six types of healthcare consumer segments:

  • Casual & Cautious: These are millennials and younger people who will eventually care and invest more into healthcare as they grow older.
  • Content & Compliant: Seniors and current patients. They don’t need to be convinced to seek out healthcare.
  • Online & Onboard: Most patients, in general. They’re open to learning more about new services and products.  
  • Sick & Savvy: The aging population with chronic conditions. The patients who need solutions.  
  • Out & About: More naturalist patients who prefer alternative medicines, natural therapies, and switch medications more often. They are unsatisfied with healthcare systems and insurance, and financially unprepared.
  • Shop & Save: Cost-conscious and open to traveling for care and switching health plans and doctors. They spend the most amount on health insurance, but are still financially sensitive.

As you can see, not every message will suit every audience—a core tenet of content marketing—and there are many different routes to take when it comes to consumer segmentation in healthcare marketing. The ultimate goal of this method is to provide specific patient sets with better care that caters to their needs, and for providers to reinvent their services to accommodate those needs. It will take time, but with the right data, healthcare marketing solutions will arise.

Have more questions about consumer segmentation? Or do you need help crafting relevant content for healthcare services? Contact S&G and we’ll help you find the right solution for your content marketing needs.

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